I know I have so many other things I should be doing, but I decided to give you a bit of substance.
Weird/Bad habits I've picked up in Georgia:
1. Unbuttoning a button on my shirt and just leaving it there.
2. Sleeping in full outfits/coats (it's cold ya'll)
3. Locking myself in at night (I have metal bars on my door)
4. Swearing. I'm not really as angry as I sound sometimes.
5. Rarely showering (there's not running water in my town).
6. Enjoying being alone. It's all about me.
7. Along with 6, avoiding people walking across town. Never before have a ipod and sunglasses come in more handy.
8. Not answering the door when someone comes knocking. It's probably a bill collector or someone wanting to cause drama. (I pay my bills) Call me!
9. Obsessively checking websites. I mean, maybe I got an email 2 seconds ago? Can't hurt to refresh right?
10. I ignore people when they shout at me on the street. "Hey you! Hey! Foreigner!"
11. I cross 4-lane streets with traffic running full speed on the daily. Frogger FTW.
12. Scowling. It keeps you in control of your social interactions.
13. Wearing slippers inside the house. This is gonna be a hard one to break, but I don't want to catch cold!
14. Wearing a scarf when my throat hurts. I've never done this before Georgia.
15. Analyzing the insect population in my house and the spider-fly-cockroach ratio before I kill them. It's a delicate balance.
16. Putting together hideous color and style combinations for outfits. You have to wear what's clean and you only have 5 outfits, so you gotta keep it interesting.
17. Using a chair seat regularly as a table. When in short supply, make it work!
18. Hoarding plastic bags and usually carrying 1-2 on you at all times. You never know when you might need them/run out!
19. Getting legitimately upset when I see a student text messaging in class. What's the big deal anyways?14-year olds have lives too...
20. Skype. It's great in small doses... but don't overdo it.
If you have done a majority to all of these things you too are assimilated! Congratulations! I realize that if you've never met me, you're picturing this bristling hermit. PS- we got the results back to our language test.
When I came to Georgia 1.5 years ago:
Georgian- Advanced-Low (I do talk!)
I bought a wool-cashmere coat at the Bazaar I'm loving. I am finishing up my essays for State Department (I passed the Foreign Service Exam!!) My project at my SM's youth center is going well. One of my students asked, "They say love is a game. What do you think?" I responded that in the beginning love is a game, but later it isn't any more. From what I've heard, the game goes away when you get older. My students at the center are awesome. It's great to teach kids that actually want to learn.
I have some good students at school of course, but there are students that you put yourself out there for them, and they shut you down or make you feel small. Generally my reaction is like, "...uhh, ummm, yeah!!! Just kidding! I was totally just kidding! ha...ha.??"
Another volunteer I have yet to mention, but I will call him the Brown Recluse, told his personal philosophy on hanging out with other Americans out of your site: It's just a false sense of happiness. "Once you go back to your site, the happiness goes away. In order to stop yourself from feeling that emptiness, you should just stay put." There were definitely some eyebrow raises, shrugs and ho-humms, but it's food for thought.
Another generalized realization I've come to is that many Georgians (who have not travelled outside of their city or country) have a really difficult time making friends. Everyone who is their friend, they have known since they were in the womb. When someone new comes along (such as my handsome self), they don't know how to function. It is my opinion that some Georgians will imagine that you are a member of their family, so that the complexities of processing the stages of friendship are simplified and you are elevated to top status, however, I believe that without that strong foundation, the friendship is a false one, and I'm often left in superficiality. It's something I've been pondering about for a while. Living all over the US, I have been able to make friends in almost any setting. Here, however, few Georgians under the conditions previously stated have such a skill. I can say I have really great friendships with Georgians who have travelled around, but they mostly live in Tbilisi, and I can't see them on a daily basis, as much as I'd like to. Food for thought....
Back to you, Tom.